Blast and damnation said Chris as the Dodge pickup ground to a halt neatly half way between the railroad freight depot where he had been repairing the staff canteens aircon unit, and the quiet northern town he called home. Chris thought to himself “That will teach me to put off fixing the fuel pump on my truck, I won’t get back to my trailer tonight” with that thought Chris got on with making himself comfortable for the night. It was not going to be any real hardship for Chris to spend the night in the open as he routinely kept his truck supplied with basic but essential survival kit.
15 minutes later he was well sorted, his sleeping bag was laid out over a foam campa mat in the load bed of the truck, his mini butane cooker was happily heating up a can of Chicken and vegetable soup, and Chris himself was sat reading the trucks repair manual while chewing on a protein bar.
As the night wore on to the early hours Chris realised that this normally very quiet back road to town was rather busy. Not more than a few minutes passed by without a vehicle or group of vehicles speeding past heading away from town. Oddly enough for such a close knit area no one bothered to stop to check over Chris’s Dodge. After a while Chris felt the need to answer a quick call of nature and dismounted from the truck to relieve himself. “That’s Strange” said Chris to himself “I know that I should be able to see the towns lights from here, but its pitch black out there, I wonder what’s going on”, with that he jumped back up to the comfort of his temporary bed. Chris pondered briefly the night’s events before he finally drifted off to a deep sleep.
Dawn came upon Chris when all of a sudden a female voiced roused him from his sleep “Hello, are you all right? I don’t suppose you have a tyre pump? would you like a coffee?, Have you been here all night ? Said the rather attractive lady chattering away excitedly as she peered down at Chris in his sleeping bag.
“Erm Yes to the first, second and fourth” piped Chris and no to the third but I could drink a fruit juice if you have one?” Said Chris quickly gathering his wits and taking stock of the morning.
After the usual platitudes, greetings and getting his stuff tidied away Chris found that the ladies name was Diane and her car was parked not twenty yards away from his immobile truck. Diane had stopped mainly because she did not like driving late at night down unfamiliar roads; she had seen Chris’s truck and decided this was a good a place as any to stop for the rest of the night.
Chris explained his predicament to Diane and enquired as to why she was heading out of town so late at night.
“I’m trying to get to my friend Sharon’s house, she lives well out of town and it should be safe from the troubles” said Diane
“What troubles?” said Chris “what are you talking about?”
“Last Night, Last Night” said Diane, The power went off about 4 pm, then there was some explosions, first at the police station, then at the big hypermarket fuel station, then shooting started in various areas. I got my weekend bag together and set of for Sharon’s house, I thought it would be safer there with her until things got sorted. I was OK until I realised my tyre was flat this morning that’s when I came over to investigate your truck and found you.
Within the hour they realised that the trucks fuel pump was not going to play ball, and the tyre of Diane’s car would not hold air, so Chris swapped over the tyre for her spare and agreed to accepting a lift back to town from her, even though it meant going the opposite direction to where she wanted to be.
Soon they were climbing the stairs to Diane’s apartment, but sat outside her front door was a mountain bike, a rucksack and a very tired lady, it was Sharon. It turned out that the power was out state wide and trouble was brewing all over the region. Sharon had tried repeatedly to contact Diane, and eventually decided to cycle the 35 miles from her house to Diane’s place. Being cautious she had come down the old cycle way (used to be a railroad track years ago) to avoid meeting strangers, and apart from falling off a few times she had got here in a little over 6 hours and two punctures later.
Sharon was feeling rather chuffed with herself as she had repaired the punctures using the repair kit on the bike, her multi tool and two spoons from her camping kit. She had kept the dust off her face and out of her eyes using the bandana and sunglasses she carried as part of her EDC along with the Leatherman multi tool. She had used her Inova X 5 LED Flashlight to illuminate the stairs and passageway to Diane’s apartment, then cracked off a Chemical light stick to provide the needed light allowing her to save the batteries in her flashlight for later. Being stuck in a lobby exposed to anyone passing through the building she kept her A G Russell Sting 1 A boot knife close to hand,.
Shortly there were three people happily resting and cleaning themselves up in Diane’s pad, Chris set two bring up some pieces of kit he had brought with him from the truck. A Butane camping stove, A World band battery powered radio, Some 12 freeze dried mountain warehouse meals and his portable water filter. The ladies after cleaning themselves up as ladies do set too taking stock of their supplies and preparing a meal.
After everyone was cleaned, fed and rested the trio used their combined intelligence to assess the situation. They agreed that it was best they stay put until early morning and to leave town for the safety of Chris’s self sufficient residential trailer. (Composting toilet, PV cells, Micro turbine, own deep well, and thriving vegetable garden) So before settling down to get as much rest as possible they packed everything that they thought would be useful into an assortment of rucksacks and fanny packs. Clothing, Diane’s .38 Ladysmith revolver, the bits Chris had brought with him, Two Silva Expedition Compasses Diane had inherited from a previous tenant, and the travel EDC kit that Sharon had brought on her bike.
Sometime in the early morning Chris woke to the sound of glass breaking and people yelling, Carefully peering through the closed blinds into the street 15 feet below he was just in time to watch a group of about 6 men, clearly drunk and all carrying guns, as they threw three blazing bottles of gasoline through the smashed windows of an apartment below and to the left of Diane’s first floor apartment.
As the 6 men wandered off up the road Chris watched with great alarm as the fire took hold in the apartment below, it only took seconds for the flames to begin roaring out the smashed windows and up the side of the building. By this time the girls were up and peering over Chris’s shoulder.
“ We had better get out of here quick said Diane to none in particular and they all grabbed for the rucksacks and fanny packs, put on their coats and fastened their boots as they headed for the door.
Chris was at the front and his hand was reaching for the door handle when Sharon
Screamed at him “Don’t Open The Door” which made Chris jump back as though the devil himself was walking in.
Before he could ask what was the matter Sharon leaned past Chris and briefly put her hand on the door before pulling it away quickly, “ The door is very hot to touch” she said “ The fire is obviously raging in the hallway, we need another way out” said Sharon as the retreated back to the lounge.
Even in the short time since they tried the front door, the temperature in the lounge had gone up dramatically, and it was getting harder to breath as noxious fumes from the fire came up through the floor. The three of them grabbed their bandanas and scarves and wet them under the tap before tying them round their mouths.
“The bathroom, the bathroom quick” said Diane as she led them across the apartment, down the hall and through the bedroom into the bathroom.
“The children’s play area has a sand pit, and its right under this window, the problem is the window is a sealed double glazed unit that does not open” said a worried Diane.
“It does now” said Chris as he drew his fire fighters Life tool from his belt, and using the tungsten tip quickly smashed through both panes of glass.
Within two minutes of Chris smashing the window the rucksacks and fanny packs were tossed out of the window, quickly followed by three hot and bothered survivors.
After gathering their packs and their wits the three survivors set off on foot as quiet as they could, soon they dropped onto the towpath that ran passed the playground, after about an hours walk Chris found a linesman’s Dodge truck just like his own, and being very familiar with this model he quickly hotwired the vehicle with the aid of his multi tool and flashlight. The trio boarded the “borrowed vehicle” and drove as carefully as they could straight out of town towards Chris’s secluded trailer home.
Many a night over the following weeks was spent round the wood burning grill in the garden of Chris’s place having heated arguments over the merits of various items of essential kit. They agreed to disagree on many aspects but they all agreed that no wise person should venture out without the following.
A good quality fixed blade or lock knife.
A good quality multi tool
A Flashlight and spare batteries
Eye glasses or sun glasses
The rest is they say history.